#LostLuggage ..... buy new clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste
#TangledLights.... first coffee
I realized after I finished reading my last book (Lameirinhas) that reading is something that will never stop. Every individual, every generation has to learn to read. To conquer its content, to think and dream about it and (dis)behave accordingly. To use it as next step to another book, adventure, story or dream.
My oldest son asked a couple of months ago what book he should read for his oral English exam at highschool. I advised him to read Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star (1977). I told him that it's an easy and thin book. The last book Clarice wrote before she died.
He finished reading the book last week and told me that he didn't understand the book. He had no idea what it was about. No clue.
Yesterday evening we talked, just the two of us about the book. In English. This is what I told him:
You have to read this book with care and slowly. Change the way you breath in and out. It's not a hamburger from McDonalds. Take your time. You need to learn to read. That's what English at school is about. Learn to read, learn to summarize and being able to talk about it in English.
Clarice is a mystic. Be aware that there are dimensions that you don't grasp. Or don't grasp yet.
Clarice likes and is interested in 'the void'. She can look concentrated in an empty shop-window with mannequins for minutes. You have to look with this in your mind at this quote "Meanwhile the clouds are white and the sky is blue. Why so much God. Why not a little for men."
In Jewish religion - Clarice parents were Jews who fled, at the end of WWI, from Ukraine to Brazil - a part of "reality" can't be said. This part is a mystery and has to be discovered. In this respect Clarice was Jewish.
The title of the book is 'The Hour of the Star'. But it could have been one of the other twelve too. Those 13 titles are 13 different views or perspectives to look at the same story.
The narrator of the book is sophisticated Rodrigo who tells his story about poor, underfed, virgin and unattractive 19 year old girl Macabéa (or Maca) who lives in Rio de Janeiro. She is a typist but will probably not keep her job for long. She lives in one room with four other woman in the slums. All of them called 'Maria'.
We do not know what the relation is between Rodrigo and Maca. Partly he feels that his life is more successful than Maca's. Partly he identifies with her ("I'll die too"). Partly he feels sorry for her ("there are many more like her").
Maca is in love with jerk Olímpico. He will leave her for hot co-worker Gloria. For Olímpico the father of Gloria is a step up on the ladder of society. Why? He's a butcher. (Maca's father died long ago.)
Maca lives in the "now" and is happy with eating hotdogs, drinking coco-cola, sipping cold coffee before she goes to bed and listening to the radio. Going to the movies once a month. Imagining being like Marilyn Monroe. She is poor and has a miserable live but isn't aware of that. She enjoys her simple life.
Gloria feels sorry for Maca (because she stole Olímpico) and recommends visiting a fortune-teller. The fortune-teller tells that she will keep the job, Olímpico will propose her and that she will marry a rich and loving foreigner called Hans. Full of bewilderment and wonder Maca leaves the fortune-teller. She steps off a curb and a huge yellow Mercedes runs over her. Maca dies.
Rodrigo reflects on death and existence. Having a miserable life and miserable death.
A sad and depressing book? No, it's a book that tries to unite a lot of things that seems conflicting and first site. And that can exist perfectly next to each other. The book begins with "yes" and ends with "yes". First sentence: "One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born."
Last sentence: "(...) all I [Rodrigo] can do is light a cigarette and go home. My God, I just remembered that we die. But - but me too?! Don't forget that for now it's strawberry season. Yes."
Why does reading matter? For you? For me? For me, it's mostly the mirror in which I look at myself and which tells me who I am (source).
I bought a couple of new books (picture). Two weeks ago I started with Fernando Lameirinhas, 'Een fado voor mijn vader' (2016). An autobiography from a musician and singer who emigrated from Portugal to Belgium. I checked out his music and was not impressed. I don't know why.
After Lameirinhas I'll read 'Why Orwell Matters' (2003) because Big Brother and New Speak matter.
On the day Donald Trump became president elected of the #USA2016 I went to a Stacey Kent concert in Rotterdam #Netherlands.
What lovely music. Her voice and singing: beautiful, intense, crystal clear and honest. I cried twice. After her first song she spoke to the audience. She told she slept that night 1.5 hour and that her heart was broken in thousands pieces because Hillary Clinton didn't win the elections. Heartbroken and devastated.
What puzzles me since, is 'Why?'. Why are so many people so over the top on Trump's "winning"? He won? She lost? Why don't we celebrate democracy? We agree, we disagree and we agree to disagree. Play hard to get selected but within the rules of the law. Democracy isn't perfect but it's, "the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried" (Churchill).
Give the President elected a fair chance. In people we trust. In democracy we trust. In the long run presidents want to be remembered as a "good" president. This endeavor is a guarantee for "misbehavior". Have trust!
Next to that there is a bias when we see democratic elections as a "game of or win or lose". The image is according to me wrong. The engine of the evolutionary process is not struggle, strife, greed or competition. Rather it's nurturing love. In which individual 'homo sapiens' are prepared to sacrifice their own perfection for the sake of the wellbeing of its neighbor.
Addendum to my 'reading list on history' (October 19, 2016):
21. Charles S. Pierce/ Evolutionary Love (1893). Antidote against Charles Darwin's image 'Survival of the Fittest'. The image is not evolutionary competition but evolutionary love.
P.S. Number 21 is a footnote on number 4, this is the power of images/ metaphors.
Why do we in the western world consider Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome as the birthplace of western civilisation? What is the constraint to accept that Ancient Greece itself was a legacy or colony of the Ancient Egyptians? Because ... white scholars at the end of the 19th century simply couldn't believe that blacks are at the root of Ancient Greek's civilisation.
Coppens in his 'Egypt: origin of the Greek culture' (1999): "The answer is to be found at the end of the 19th century, and the racial situation of that era. The central question is what race the ancient Egyptians were. The relationship between blacks and white Europeans was a powerful social issue in the United States and Great Britain; in 1879, Britain ruled one quarter of the world. It was at this time that scholars began to awaken to the realisation that the Egyptians possessed a powerful culture; it was at this time that Greece was identified as the cradle of western civilisation. It were largely white scholars who would do anything to make sure that blacks would find no place in history… after all, it could lead to serious social consequences. Blacks surely could never be at the roots of that wonderful Greek civilisation? That “had” to be erroneous. It was simply impossible…"
P.S. The fact is black for Ancient Greece is a footnote on number '3. Antidote against Ancient Greece and Rome' in list 'Invitation to Wander' (October 2016).
How many books of 'My History Top 10' from Heuijerjans have you read? I have read four of them: Kennedy, Davies, Hughes and Wulf. My observation #top10: mainly books from era since Western Age of Enlightenment. Why? Question: Does Heuijerjans know that his point of view on history is biased if these books are his solid ground?
Here is my more balanced (with its own biases of course) list on history:
Friedrich Nietzsche/ Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Antidote against Socrates (Ancient Greece 5th Century BC) and Christianity (Year 0 - Present Day).
Christian Meier/ Caesar. A Biography (1982). Antidote against Age of Enlightenment. Rome is never beaten in history. More
Frankfort, Frankfort, Wilson and Jacobsen/ Before Philosophy (1946). Antidote against Ancient Greece and Rome. Book on Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt before philosophy and ratio was born in Ancient Greece.
Moyers and Flowers/ The Power of Myth. Interview with Joseph Campbell (1988). Antidote against science and ratio. The influence, metaphors and power of myths.
Darrin McMahon/ The History of Happiness (2006). Antidote against there is only one definition of 'happiness'. More
Karel van der Leeuw/ Het Chinese Denken (1994). Antidote against Western thinking. Book in Dutch on Chinese thinking.
Angus Madison/ Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History (2007). Antidote against the Western World has gained supremacy on planet Earth. In retrospect China has never been beaten and lives in splendid isolation. Only for a brief period of time, between 1850-2010, the West has had a higher Gross Domestic Product. More
Leopold/ Uit den Tuin van Epicurus (1976). Antidote against Christianity. The most personal book on this list. Book in Dutch. It's a translation of fragments and letters of Epicurus (Ancient Greece 5th Century BC). More
Martin van Creveld/ The Age of Airpower. Antidote against being earthbound or seabound. More
Wikipedia/ Sense. Antidote against written books. Antidote against the bias of the five human senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. More
Eriksen and Nielsen/ A History of Antropology (2001). Antidote against our group is the axis and cornerstone of the world.
Bruno Borchert/ Mystiek. Geschiedenis en Uitdaging (1989). Antidote against ratio. Book in Dutch on history of mysticism. The spiritual enlightenment of individuals was the founding stone of Christianity and Islam.
Bruce Chatwin/ The Songlines (1987). Antidote against written words. The aboriginals in Austrialia save the knowledge of their natural environment in memorized songs.
Ton Lemaire/ Twijfel aan Europa (1990). Antidote against Western behavior, globalisation and consumerism. Book in Dutch.
Ryszard Kapuscinki/ The Other (2008). Antidote against the 'I' is the axis and cornerstone of the world.
Aldous Huxley/ Brave New World (1931). Antidote against technology is king. What kind of society do we want? What is public? What is private?
Heraclitus of Ephesus/ Panta rhei (5th century BC). Antidote against books. Sometimes one sentence tells more than one book: 'everything flows' (Greek 'panta rhei').
Kooimans, Van den Broeke, Fokkens and Van Gijn/ Nederland in de prehistorie (2005). Antidote against history as written words. Book in Dutch on The Netherlands in the Prehistoric era.
Stephen Hawking/ A Brief History of Time (1988). Antidote against planet Earth. Our planet was born and will one day die too.
Simone de Beauvoir/ The Second Sex (1949). Antidote against male is the axis and cornerstone of the world. Woman are not naturally born as woman but they become woman as product of society, parents, religion and conformity. More
The books above are just my pick. It's not a frozen reading list but an invitation to wander around in the fringes and biases of white European male on planet Earth. I am not a specialist on any of the above mentioned antidotes. I am just a curious human being trying to explore and wonder about his fringes. Trying not to get frozen.
Addendum November 11, 2016
21. Charles S. Pierce/ Evolutionary Love (1893). Antidote against Charles Darwin's image
'Survival of the Fittest'. The image is not evolutionary competion but evolutionary love.
I used to think that the University is packed with smart people, so smart as ... Albert Einstein or Jean-François Champollion. The one's who invent wheels, decode forgotten languages or discover new senses. That's the reason why I was very modest at first in the temple of knowledge. How could I ever match those geniuses?
And now? Now I know that the University is above all a place where knowledge is hand over from one generation to another. Nothing less. Most scientists are not geniuses. They are just good in their speciality of knowledge. The real geniuses are rare.
Woman subordinate or inferior to men? Woman should have a husband? What nonsense! Sometimes we realize that the things/ thoughts we classify and consider as "natural" are founded on loose sand. Woman are not naturally born as second sex, as woman but they become woman as product of society, parents, religion and conformity. Simone de Beauvoir in 'The Second Sex' (1949): "One is not born, but rather becomes, (a) woman."
What more loose sand founded natural things/ thoughts can we see if we take a deeper look in history?
Happiness is pleasure? What nonsense! The definition of happiness has changed at least five times in the history of the Western world. More. What about the definitions of happiness in China, India and ... - there must be more.
Paradise, Heaven, Jannah or Afterlife? What nonsense! All those "worlds" are constructed to keep out human suffering. There is only one world, with which we have to live. We have no other choice than to affirm the world as it is, including all suffering. More
Images or metaphors steady as rock? What nonsense! Any idea how influential images are? More
Democracy as a Natural Law. Love as a Natural Law. Peace (not War) as a Natural Law. What nonsense! It's projection. Made and invented concepts by 'homo-sapiens' in Western Europe. Historically biased. Culturally biased. 'Homo-sapiens' biased. Individual 'homo-sapiens' biased. Highly subjective. More
The weather was hot. Sometimes tropical. On the last day rain - a lot - for two hours.
Step. Step. Step. Hour after hour. Fighting with the demons of laziness, pain, sleep and goal-keeping. And then - step, step, step - a few more steps and one more International Four Days Marches Nijmegen is finished. It was my 6th and last one. I am very proud on my medal. Did you know that this medal represents the distance between The Netherlands and Italy by foot?
This is the book that was the stepping-stone for me to study philosophy. To be exact, it was three particular sections on page 65 and 66.
I took this book off the shelf out of curiosity - at the age of 17 I guess - while walking to the history and geography section in the library. I noticed this book before and was somehow attracted to the word 'garden' (Dutch 'tuin'). By accident - was it an accident? - I took this book with me to Austria (skiing holiday). On one of the first days I read this book early in the morning. I was flabbergasted. Before this book 'philosophy' was for me: stupid, anything but common sense, detached from reality and irrelevant quibbles.
The book opened for me the door to ancient Greek philosophy. Thoughts, words and images before the Bible. How I longed for that! Next to that it seemed that philosophy was a clear and tangible world. Something that everyone could learn. Just like a special kind of history. Tempting!
P.S. J.H. Leopold, 'Uit Den Tuin Van Epicurus' (1976). Reissue based on 2nd print 1920. Page 65 and 66 is part of the commentary from Peter van Eeten.
P.P.S. The 'witty wise man' (German 'witzigen Weisen) is Epicurus (4th century BC).
The world that turns around and around. And around. And around. Never to stop. For some it's up. For some down. Others enjoy, suffer, experience rewinding or rough years. Others see only a clear and blue sky. Question: is there next to physical 'law of conservation of energy' also a law that says that total of emotion on planet Earth remains constant?
For the Christians life is a two-way-street: it's either good or bad. In the end the individual goes either to heaven or to hell. Nothing in between.
What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope? Who is man? Those are the 4 basic questions of humanity according to a wise man. (Who? That's a Chinese garden.)
Kapuscinski: "And so the three possibilities I have mentioned have always stood before man whenever he has encountered an Other: he could choose war, he could fence himself in behind a wall, or he could start up a dialogue."
Back to basics? On a individual level it's fencing ones-selves behind a wall. Two steps ahead of everyone is that possible around the haywain? Or should we shift to another image? If yes, what image?
P.S. The haywain is the image in the central panel of the triptych 'The Haywain' (around 1516) from H. Bosch.
What can we learn from fighter pilots for everyday life?
1. Train like you fight
2. Don’t be both out of airspeed and ideas
3. Keep your knots up
4. Keep your scan going
5. Lost sight, lost fight
6. You can only tie the record for low flight
7. There’s no kill like a guns kill
8. Don’t turn back into a fight you’ve already won
9. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take
10. A letter of reprimand is better than no mail at all
11. If you know you’re about to die, make your last transmission a good one
My favorite is #9. Just shoot! Nothing wrong with getting some bruises (#10).
I love triptych. Mostly a painting that has two sides with a message: front closed and front opened. Sometimes the backside has a painting too (better: three). In the Middle Ages the front was closed most of the time - I guess - because it was their way of getting the fellow Christians eager and willing for the beauty of the mystery.
A couple of times a week, a month the triptych was opened with all it's colours and light. A very strong visual message of how to behave. Be good and you will go to paradise. Be bad and you will go to hell.
Panels closed ... for me it's the Christian way of a Chinese garden. Seduce them to the mystery.
Panels open ... for me the christians are too black and white. The image of paradise and hell in afterlife is a wrong metaphor. Simply because there is no such thing. It's our 'homo sapiens' projection of evil to the Devil and Others. The painful truth is, we are "evil" here and now. Not the Others but you, me and all other individual 'homo sapiens'. We are sweet and sour. And if we deny our sour we ...
For the ancient Egyptians to see their God(s), every now and then, with their own eyes in a procession standing on a litter, that's life. To see! Next to that they used all their other senses too, to experience and have direct contact with their God(s) here and now. To see ... and not to read a holy book.
Are we human beings not too biased when it comes to senses getting data for perception? We "common sense" people all are familiar with Aristotle's (4th century B.C.) list of five: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But ... there is more. Better: there is more and next to that there could be even more. Never get frozen!
What is it? This moving animal in a black something?
A bird? What bird?
Here are original pictures of this #lovely #beautiful object. Mark the head and feathers.
It's a shell chiseled by some artisan into a bird. The provenance of this object is unknown (better: unknown to me). According to the 2012 catalogue from David Ghezelbash (page 43-46) is it a tridacne shell sculpted in the shape of an owl. Phoenician, around 8th century B.C. Belonging to an old private English collection. On sale, in 2012, at a cost of 220 thousand euros.
Who made it for whom? Grandparent for (grand)child because he/ she loves birds and dreams about flying? A magician for his tribe?
Why? Out of love for a (grand)child? For a ritual? A thank you for a God(s) or divinity (ex-voto)? A beg for the ability to fly? I guess we will never know.
P.S. According to feedback from a birdman the "bird" is an Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus). Source image: @alamy.
Look at this beautiful visualisation from Jeff Fletcher about When the World is going to End between 66 and 2280 AD. Better: between 66 and googol, this is year 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
The list is so long that zoomed out we can't see anything substantial:
Most predicted ends are between 1980 and 2015. Why?
Most predicted end are from Christians. Why?
A nice addition would have been: How is the world going to end?
P.S. I wrote on this subject too in 'Front Door' (february 2012).